Diver's Commonwealth comeback: 'It's surreal'

12:27 pm on 11 April 2018

Two days out from competition, diver Shaye Boddington is still pinching herself she's at the Commonwealth Games at all.

New Zealand diving team, Shaye Boddington. Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia. Monday 9 April, 2018. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport NZ

Boddington, 31, is competing at her first Games after returning to diving less than 18 months ago, after 13 years away from the sport.

She was selected to represent New Zealand in the 2002 Games but issues over her New Zealand citizenship - she was born in Zimbabwe - prevented her from competing.

Not long afterwards, she dropped out the sport completely to battle a serious eating disorder.

Read more about Shaye here.

Boddington, along with the four other divers in the New Zealand squad, has been training on the Gold Coast for a week now, but finally being at the Games still felt "surreal", she said.

"It's so weird, eh. If I could've seen this a year and a half ago I would've been so confused.

"It definitely feels like I'm finishing off something that I never got to finish off [earlier], and finishing it off in a nice way that I now have control over."

Diving events begin today, although Boddington's event - the 1m women's springboard - is not until Friday.

Ahead of the competition, the squad has been having two training sessions a day at the Optus Aquatic Centre, to get used to the outdoor pool.

Spinning under floodlights during an evening training session, with the night sky above and a turquoise pool below, had been one of the highlights so far, Boddington said.

"It's definitely different but night-time's actually easier, because when you spin you see the black for the sky and the blue for the water, so it's easier to orientate yourself.

"One of the coaches was taking some video … and I was like woah, this light is so cool."

Daytime was a different story.

"During the day there's a lot of blue, so there have been a couple of splats, a couple of belly-flops, from people getting used to it - luckily I haven't been one of them," she said.

"There was a bad one the other day - the diver had bruised eyes afterwards."

Divers train on the 10-metre platform ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Optus Aquatic Centre swimming pool in Gold Coast on April 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS

Divers train during a night session at Optus Aquatic Centre Photo: AFP

The final training sessions were going "pretty well", she said.

"It hasn't been amazing, but I feel like there's still another [few] days of training to go and I'm happy with where I'm at - it's more like finishing touches.

"If I could compete the way I've been training, I'd be happy."

Boddington was most nervous about performing a reverse two-and-a-half tuck - a dive that involves a 900 degree rotation and has one of the highest difficulty ratings for the 1m springboard event.

"It's my chance to do a big dive in a competition," she said.

"I've done some really good ones while I've been here and I've done some that have been misses."

Dive coach Steve Gladding said the squad had worked hard and training was going well.

"They've all got a process they work through ... If they can run that process out in this environment and then we'll see what results we get from that.

"It's about getting on that board and doing what they do."

New Zealand diving team, Anton Down-Jenkins, Shaye Boddington, Yu Qian Goh, Lizzie Cui, Liam Stone. Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia. Monday 9 April, 2018. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

The New Zealand dive squad (left to right): Anton Down-Jenkins, Shaye Boddington, Yu Qian Goh, Lizzie Cui and Liam Stone Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz